Hodakaguy's 4wd Sprinter Build Out


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The rear vertical L-track sections will act as the rear bed mounts but they need to span the rear windows, they also need to be curved to match the forward sections of vertical track. Today's project....start fabricating braces.

I started by cutting some mounting tabs out of some flat stock.

With the tabs cut I used a washer to mark out a radius on the corners then used a disk sander to round the corners of the tabs.

Next I applied some double stick tape to the back side of the tabs and stuck them in place, once installed I can start measuring the distance of the curved C-channel.

Next up I decided to remove the mill scale from the tabs, should have just done this in the first place lol. Removing the mill scale allows for cleaner welds and a better paint finish. The Ez-Strip disks make very quick work of removing mill scale without removing any metal, very handy!

Lower and upper tabs taped in place.

Here I'm using the L-track to set the location of the upper tab, the outer edges of the track need to line up evenly. The lower track will be off slightly due to the plastic trim.

Trimming the C-channel to size

Marking out the angle so the C-channel will mate up with the tabs correctly. Used a square block on the tabs to mark the angle onto the C-channel higher than it needs to be, then copied the angle and moved it down to the bottom where the actual cut is required.

C-channel cut and mounting tabs tacked in place.

My dad welding out the mounting tabs :) Always fun watching my dad work his magic :)

Next up I drilled the 1/4" mounting holes in the L-track

Then I clamped the L-track onto the brace and used a drill bit to slightly mark the hole locations on the brace.

With the holes drilled I installed some temporary bolts and added some 1/4" stainless nuts on the back side, these nuts will be welded onto the brace.

As you tighten the bolts the Track will conform to the brace.

Nuts in place, then welded to the brace.

With the nuts welded in place I decided to add a piece of flat bar on the back side to close it out for a more finished look.

Counter sinking the bolt holes on the L-track.

L-track mounted to the brace. Almost finished, just need to drill the mounting holes on the tabs and paint the brace before install. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

And a quick picture with me holding the assembly in place. It started to rain and shut down my progress for the day.....lighting for pics was terrible but You get the idea :)

Now to replicate it again for the passenger side :)



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Up early this morning to start work on the second brace. Not as many pics of the process today since it's a repeat of yesterday.

Dad welding the mounting tabs to the C-channel

Marking and drilling mounting holes in the brace.

Nuts being welded onto the back side of the brace and then welding on the rear cover.

Both braces complete minus the mounting holes on the tabs and paint.

Drilling the 1/4" mounting holes in the tabs

Painted with two coats of textured satin black paint and ready for install

Installing the track onto the braces. I'm using stainless hardware so I'm adding anti-seize to prevent the bolts from galling in place.

Assembled....ready to install.

I used 1/4" Steel Rivets to attach the assemblies to the van...nice and secure! Sorry only one shot of the install as I got busy :)

And installed....should make for a nice clean bed mounting setup. Going to be nice to have the bed mounted in place and not have any legs sticking down and taking up room like last summer.

Mike at Vanlab printing me out 3 more recessed speaker adapters.....will look a lot more "factory" once the adapters are installed, it means having to pull the lower panels once more but it will be worth it for the improved looks.

More to come.....



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Time to get started on the bed frame.

The whole family decided to take a day trip with me to get out of the house and pick up some telescoping aluminum tubing for the bed frame fabrication. I picked up enough for myself and Mike as he is going to fabricate a frame for his van as well.

Supplies loaded up in the van....Sweet!

Starting to lay out the bed frame, I'm using a sheet of wood as a Jig. Since the walls of the van are curved the bed frame will need to extend and contract to allow mounting in different positions depending on the height of the items your carrying below the bed. I like the way the Adventure Wagon MOAB bed uses a gas strut to lock the bed into the side rails so I decided to add a strut to mine as well. The strut should also prevent any rattles while driving by keeping the entire assembly under tension.

I decided to make my bed frame in two panels, I'll be able to use one panel sideways as a single bed when traveling with the dirt bike or install both panels when the wife and I are both going.

Fabricating the mounts for the 20" x 20lb gas strut.

Miter saw with an aluminum blade is the only way to cut tubing...soooo quick and nice.

Coming together.

I'm installing a push button that will automatically lock the frame in the fully retracted position when the frame is collapsed. When removed the frames will store along the wall in a yet to be built storage rack, the button lock will keep the bed collapsed while in the rack. The button will be located on the inside of the tubing under the wood top, hidden and easy to access when you need to release the telescopic function to mount the bed.

Selecting the correct size drill bit with the help of some calipers.

Drilling the hole for the button through both the inner and outer tubing.

Recessing the outer hole so that your finger can depress the button easily.

Ready to install

The button installs by sliding the spring down the inner tubing until the button pops into the hole, a long piece of dowel works great as a push stick.

And button installation complete.

The button will be located here, hidden on the under side of the bed frame.

Getting closer...

Next up is to attach the 1.25" tubing to the inner 1" tubing on the telescoping end of the frame. Here I drilled holes in the outer tubing to weld the inner tubing to the outer tubing using rosette welds, this will allow me to eliminate the welds on the ends of the tubing and let the tubing have a nice flush mate up.

I'm doing the welding today, here I'm setting up the machine and welding some scrap as a test piece. Garage is a mess but I can't be bothered to clean right now :)

Filling in the rosette welds.

Welding on the inner strut mount. Always fun welding on the floor and having to use your knee on the pedal :)

I'll be using 1"x1" lock pins on the end of the frame to engage the yet to be fabricated side rail mounts. Here I'm using more rosette welds to keep the ends of the pins clean and free from welds that would interfere with a snug fit.

Getting there...

More to come....



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Little more work on the bed frame today.

Unit is tacked and out of the jig for welding.

Adding the second strut mount.

Assembled with the strut temporarily in place. The unit slides harder than I would like as the tolerances between the tubing are very tight and there is very little allowance for any warping while welding. I'll look at it tomorrow and see what can be done, either way it's sliding and functional :)

More to come....



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Not a ton of pics today but I knocked out the second half of the bed frame.

Cutting all the aluminum bits to size

In the jig and ready to tack up.

Welding in the mounting pegs using rosette welds.

Going together

The two bed frames next to each other. Still have some mounting tabs to weld on and a little sanding to make the units slide properly.

Next I need to start on the side mounting rails.



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Today's project...fabricate the side mounts and test fit the bed frames.

I'll be using aluminum tubing for the mounts.

Drilling the corners for the bed frame mounting holes

Transferring the marks over to the 2nd mount.

Capping the ends

Getting there

Welding on the mounting tabs.

Mounting rails installed.

Bed frames installed.

More to come...



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Received my Mule Bags for the van. We will be using these soft overhead luggage bags to hold our cloths etc and help keep the floor free from clutter. I love that the bags are soft for when you bump your head on them and that they are easily removable if I need to take them out to haul something etc.

Ready to install.

Out of the box, bag is folded up and the internal stiffeners are folded flat.

Supplied Mounting Hardware

Installing the mounting studs on the ceiling L-track. The rubber washer helps hold the assembly in place during install.

Rear bag in place.

Installing the forward bags hardware.

And both bags installed. I spaced the bags so there is a slight gap between them so I can still place items into the elastic netting on the ends of the bags. The fit of the bags are spot on! The camera pics up more IR than the naked eye and makes the bags look purple, they are nice and black in person.

The opening flaps have built in magnets to hold them open when needed, nice touch.



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Just got back from a quick 600 Mile road trip, first trip of the year with the van. Not quite finished with the interior yet but It's time to start camping and worry about finishing the van at a later date :)

Here's a few photo's from our adventures through Central OR.

Worlds largest map of the Oregon Trail, wrapped around the other side of the building as well.

The town of Baker OR has a really cool museum, here we stopped and are waiting for the doors to open.

One of my favorite things in the museum was this cool old rifle, man If only this rifle could talk!

Checking out some cool old equipment in Sumpter OR. This walking drag line was awesome.

I would so love to restore this tracked Fordson, look at that awesome winch!

Next up we checked out the old Sumpter Dredge. This dredge removed 128,570 oz of gold while chewing up the Sumpter valley, the tailings can be seen throughout the valley. I brought along the drone on this trip and got a couple cool overhead shots.

You can really see the size of the dredge with the wife and kiddo on the deck.

The tailing conveyor on the stern of the dredge and the ends of the sluice boxes.

Buckets baby!

One of the winch systems on board, this winch was used for positioning the dredge in the pond

Here's the winch that controlled the bucket line, you can also see two of the three pumps onboard that had a total of 3000 gpm capacity.

Next we rolled through the abandoned town of Whitney, I love checking out old abandoned buildings.

Lots of cool canyons along the route.

Camp for the night and enjoying the breeze and view out the rear door.

Next morning we drove up to Fossil OR to dig for fossils. There is a public dig area located right behind the high school.

Lot's of really cool leaf and fern fossils, this area looked a lot different back then.

After that we shut down early for the day so we could just relax and the kiddo could spend the day swimming.

The roof rack makes a great place to kick back in the camp chair and relax

Making coffee for the ride home.....another trip in the books.



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Back to the Build out....

On the last trip we liked the Mule bags so well that we ordered a third bag while we were on the road. These bags are very well thought out and really help organize the van and keep clutter off the floor. Here I'm getting ready to install the two missing panels and install the 3rd Mule bag.

Sealing the screw hole with a soldering iron to ensure the tweed can't start fraying.

Panels installed

Mule bag out of the box.

Installing the mounting hardware onto the L-track.

And installed. Lots-0-Storage space

The crank for the Fiamma awning fits perfectly in the loops on the bottom of the bag.

Next up it's time to seal this van up and make it weather proof. There is a glaring over site on Mercedes part when they designed the clips for the plastic side panels. Water can easily run behind the clips and into the walls during rain storms or when washing the van....not good. Now that I have my walls insulated the last thing I want is water getting trapped in with the insulation, time to fix this issue.


Note: For 2019 Mercedes finally decided to address this issue by adding a little rubber lip around each retaining clip to keep water out. I've heard that the seal is marginal at best and it's recommended that you still remove & seal these clips as well for a reliable waterproof seal.

Time to start removing the trim

The rear edges of the front doors and both ends of the slider doors have screws that need to be removed.

I purchased a cheap set of plastic body panel removal tools from Harbor Freight to remove the trim panels, they worked great. Note: Make sure the fulcrum of the tool is below the edge of the body panel so you don't leave any small dimple dents as you remove the panels. While pulling on the panel from the end work the tool down the trim piece and pop loose each trim clip.

Some clips will stay with the trim piece and some will stay in the body....either way not a big deal.

Next I removed the clips from the body using another one of the HF tools. You can use a screw driver here as well to reach in and compress/release each side of the clips, the HF tool makes it a quick process. The only thing keeping water out is the plastic contact against the body, and it's not a very good seal. Go slow and you won't break and of the clips, I managed to remove all the clips without breaking any in the process.

Next I used a bent pair of needle nose pliers to release the clips that were still attached to the side panels. I just reached in with the pliers and slightly compressed the tabs until the clip released.

Continued Below...



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Continued from above...

Clips and Panels Removed.

I first cleaned the body surfaces a couple times with Windex then went over the clip locations with some wax/de-greaser.

HodakaDad helping me clean the clips

I'll be using Sikaflex 221 to seal the clips to the body.

Sika applied to the clips

The clip is installed vertically, I installed them slightly off vertical then rotated them into position for a good seal.

With all the clips sealed in place just line up the panels to the tabs and use your palm to snap the panels back into place. Nice and waterproof now, I'll sleep easier when it rains now :)

Next up I started the install of the Switch Pro SP9100. The Switch Pro is a programmable 8 position switch panel that you can use to control your accessories (Lights, Air compressors, etc). The unit is fully programmable with the phone app...you can tie switches together, make a switch start stop with the engine, tie aux lights to your high beams etc. I had one on my last build and loved it, very versatile and a super clean way to add a bunch of switches. The head unit/switch assembly is very thin and robust, the brains of the unit is all solid state and has it's own over current protection. The unit comes with stickers that you place on each switch location to mark your intended use for that switch, the lighting is dim-able and you can change it to any color.

The switch panel.

I decided to place the unit in the headliner above the dome light assembly. It's within easy reach here and I don't have to look at the lighting while driving at night.

Marking out the hole location.

Used a razor knife to cut the tweed.

Then used a soldering iron to burn the edges of the tweed to keep the fabric from fraying.

Next up I used an ultrasonic tool to cut out the headliner

Preparing the switch unit for install by inserting the studs on the rear of the unit that hold the retaining clips in place

Switch unit installed.

The brains of the unit will be installed soon.

More to come soon....



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Time to get the electronics installed. Pic Heavy Post...Lots of work this weekend.

Started off by installing the Victron battery monitor remote display. The Victron unit has Bluetooth capabilities but I like to have the dedicated display as well.

Hmmmm...Right about here on the upper front panel should work nicely.

Panel removed from the van and installation of the display under way.

And back in the van

Next up I decided to fabricate a bracket to hold the Blue Sea fuse holder that will be connected to the Aux battery. This plastic door on the passenger side seat base will be perfect for accessing the fuses if needed without having to pull the seat off to get to them.

Laying out the bracket on a sketch pad

Off to use a brake and sheer to cut and bend the fuse holder bracket along with a couple other brackets that I will be using shortly. Man I wish I had these at home.

And installing the fuse panel into position.

Aux Battery Install: This morning I took a look at placing the aux battery under the passenger side seat area. I want to keep all the electronics out of the cargo area in case I want to quickly convert the van from camper mode into cargo mode, that way I'll have the whole cargo bay available. I was lacking about 1/2" of clearance because of my Espar heater that I previously installed under the passenger side base and I really don't want to move the heater so time to look for somewhere else to mount the battery.

After looking a bit under the drivers side seat there is plenty of room for the Aux batt (100ah Battleborn LI) and a few other components as well (Redarc DC/DC charger/MPPT Solar Charge Controller, 75A Bosch Relay for the BD Lights on the roof rack, Victron Shunt for the battery monitor system).

The factory setup under the drivers side seat

There was only a couple items attached to the rear plastic relay bar........Time to remove it and yard that baby out of there!

Cutting some aluminum. These non-ferrus blades are the only way to cut aluminum!

Fabricating the battery base and mounts.

Marking out the mounting holes for the base

Continued Below...


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Continued from above....

Removing the factory mounting studs on the rear of the seat base as they will interfere with the battery placement. Here a reinforced cutoff wheel on a Dremel makes quick work of removing the studs. I place painters tape around the area to catch metal bits and use a vacuum as well. I use the painters tape to trap shavings when drilling as well.

Test fitting the battery.....perfect.

Next up I fabricated the mounting bracket for the Redarc DC/DC Converter.

The Redarc will be installed in this open space at the front of the seat base.

Creating a beveled notch on the front and rear underside edge of the base plates for the battery hold down strap.

Crappy picture but there is a smooth rounded "notch" here.

Better view of the drivers side mount, you can see it clears the studs on the floor.

Never Seize is your friend when working with Stainless Steel hardware, keeps them from galling together.

Had a couple hard to reach bolts....a little electrical tape and you have a go go gadget nut installation tool for reaching back into holes lol.

Battery mount base installed.

This factory tab on the back side of the E-brake will work perfectly as a brace to lock the battery into position.

Piece of aluminum angle installed.

Time to add some felt to ensure there are no wear points on the battery.

Cutting some relief holes in the felt to go over the remains of the studs on the rear of the seat base.

And some added to the side brace as well.

Felt in position, now I'm drilling and tapping a couple holes for the drivers side battery brace.

Installing a Bosch 75A Relay. This relay will be controlled from the Switch Pro and will carry the load to the 6 LP-9 Lights on the roof rack.

Open spot on the drivers rear of the seat base should work nicely.

Battery hold down bracket completed.

Battery Installed.

I decided to install the Victron Shunt in the front drivers side corner of the drivers seat base.

The transmission ECU was mounted on the bottom of the seat base, right where the battery is now. There was enough slack in the cables to re-locate it to the front right of the base using the factory mounting bracket. I was able to use one factory hole and had to drill one new hole. Fits like a glove.

More to come.....



The more I look at what you did I realize just how cool this installation/modifications really is. Great stuff. GoGo Gadget nut installation tool lol!

Curious the felt for the battery, have you seen wear issues in the past? I purchased some battery boxes for my two batteries.


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The more I look at what you did I realize just how cool this installation/modifications really is. Great stuff. GoGo Gadget nut installation tool lol!

Curious the felt for the battery, have you seen wear issues in the past? I purchased some battery boxes for my two batteries.
Thanks Mate. The felt is just more of a precaution, probably not necessary but and easy extra step.



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Starting the layout for the Switch Pro mount.

I'm using Rivet Nuts on the bottom support mount since I can't get behind them to install lock nuts.

Mount going in

Wiring the Switch Pro to the terminal strip.

Terminating wires.

Making heat shrink labels....so handy to have wiring clearly labeled for future trouble shooting etc.

Installing a master disconnect that will kill all power from the aux battery. This is a great safety feature as you can quickly kill all electrical power if a short was ever to develop in the system. There is a nice our of the way spot on the front passenger seat base to locate the disconnect.

Some tape and a magnet helps keep the metal shavings as bay.

Cleaning up the edges of the hole with the deburring tool.

Painting the edges

And installed....

More cables....

Testing to verify if the van has a smart alternator or not by running the engine for a good 15 min and watching the voltage, voltage stayed above 14v the whole time.....perfect no smart alternator!

The Sprinter has a sweet bus bar off the positive terminal of the Start Batt for upfitting and adding additional power, the unit is even fused....perfect!

Continued Below....